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Birra Moretti

The Moretti Gran Tour is rolling in to Edinburgh from the 9th to 12th of July, where they will be taking up residence at Summerhall to share the very best of Italian street food with us. We’re offering you – our lovely readers – the chance to be there!

To be in with a chance of winning, all you have to do is Tweet us up! Simply Follow @EdinEditor on Twitter and ReTweet one of our Tweets with the competition picture which looks something like this:

Moretti Gran Tour

Our lucky competition winners will be added to the guest list for the day of their choosing (9th-12th July) so your names will be on the door for you to get the full experience.

The Moretti Gran Tour is hitting cities across the UK this summer, sharing the delights of Italian steet food as the sun (hopefully) shines on us all. Sharing food from the likes of Naples, Tuscany and Panino Teca, Edinburgh companies La Favorita, Bonny Vita, Maialini Deli (amongst others) will be giving those coming a taste of Italy.

In town from the 9th-12th July, the Moretti Gran Tour is bringing a taste of Italy (and hopefully a taste of the sunshine!) to us and showcasing local companies along the way.

If you want to guarantee yourself a ticket, you can get them here.

Terms and conditions

  1. The prize is two pairs of tickets (split as 2 prizes, each comprising of 2 tickets) and will be fulfilled by CowPR, on behalf of Moretti.
  2. The competition will run until 11:59pm on Tuesday 7th July 2015 (BST), with the winner decided and notified by Wednesday 8th July.
  3. We will notify the winner through Twitter by the 8th, they will have 24 hours to respond – if this does not happen, the second most entertaining answer will win. The same process will apply.
  4. The prize will be fulfilled by CowPR/Moretti, we will only pass the details of the winner on to them. Edinburgh Editor takes no responsibility for the prize.
  5. All emails collected by this competition will be added to the Edinburgh Editor newsletter mailing list – details of which can be found here. If you do not wish to be added please either unsubscribe or email editor@edinburgheditor.com with the email address you wish not to be added – this will not affect your chances of winning.
  6. Full details of our disclosure policy can be found here.

56 North

One of our favourite gin joints, on summer days they open the big wall-like windows and there are lots of tables and chairs outside for your enjoyment. Seriously, you can lose DAYS here.

The Devil’s Advocate

If you’re looking for some more formal drinks, cocktails or perhaps wine and food, then The Devil’s Advocate is exactly what you’re looking for. You wouldn’t necessarily have them to have a beer garden, but their courtyard is a great little escape from the hustle of the city.

The Pear Tree

The Pear Tree

The best known of Edinburgh’s big beer gardens, this huge space in the Old Town is always lively and often features live music or sport at the weekends.

Indigo Yard

Down in the West End there isn’t a whole lot of space, so Indigo Yard is one of the few places you can get out in the fresh air in – even if it is a little cramped

The Black Cat

Whilst there isn’t a beer garden, like most of Rose Street’s bars they have a few tables outside and on sunny weekends you will find people spreading out a little further into the brickwork as it’s semi-pedestrianised.

The Cumberland

One of our favourites in the New Town, The Cumberland has a great sunken beer garden that’s a total sun trap on summery evenings – well worth a visit.

The Raeburn

The Raeburn Beer Garden

Probably the biggest beer garden in the New Town/Stockbridge area, plus they have two balconies – The Raeburn is a great place to spend a few sunny hours with a great drink in hand.

Teuchtars Landing

Is there sunshine on leith? In that case head down to the banks of Commercial Quay and find one of the many picnic benches at Teuchtars. They also have a great bar menu of snacks that come in mugs!

Summerhall

If you have been at Summerhall for one of their many events (like the Gin Festival!) you can’t have helped notice that they have a pretty large courtyard right in the middle. A great little suntrap, you can also get beer from Barney’s that brews on site!

Hawes Inn

Forth Bridges

Found yourself in South Queensferry on this lovely sunny day? Enjoy the space and greenery of the Hawes Inn, a great place for all the family to relax.

Dynamic Earth

Humour us, please, we’re about to take you on a journey through 13.8 billion years, and all pretence that normally hides our child-like enthusiasm and excitement is well and truly out the window. We’re acting like six-year-olds, complete with ear to ear grins, and not ashamed of it. Today we’re taking a trip round Dynamic Earth, down in Holyrood, where we’re going to learn how the world we know today came in to being.

Dynamic Earth

112 Holyrood Road – dynamicearth.co.uk

I think we can all acknowledge that the weather in our fine city can sometimes be less than what you desire in a summers day – in fact one of the most read articles on Edinburgh Editor is our 7 places to go when it rains – and so it’s always good to have a few ideas up your sleeve that are indoors. One of those on our list of ‘places to see’ was Dynamic Earth – it’s been here since 1999 and yet none of my friends or I had really been. Today that was changing as my partner in grinning for the day, Sarah, and I were on a learning expedition. We could talk about this for hours – we had an amazing time – but so we don’t bore you senseless or ruin all the excitement for you we’ll take you on an even briefer tour through time than even we went on.

We begin in Victorian times, oddly enough, and in the very city we’re in – Edinburgh. It’s some sort of lecture theatre complete with blackboards and the tutorage of the father of modern geology himself, James Hutton. We passed through relatively quickly, but it’s a great introduction to the idea of geology and how little we really know and how little time we’ve really known about the age of our earth and the wider universe.

Dynamic Earth

Next you enter the first of several immersive exhibits – the time machine (that rather anti-climacticly  works in a very similar fashion to a lift, makes you wonder why they didn’t just install one of those instead…) takes you down into the rock to board your spacecraft that takes your on a rapid tour starting mere moments before the big bang and then onwards through the next 10 billion years as our galaxy, solar system and ultimately our planet came into being. And believe it or not that is, in every sense, just the beginning of your journey.

Over the next hour you are taken on an amazing series of journeys – almost unbelievable in parts – that show you the powerful forces that shape planets, evolution, our oceans and the different regions that make up our planet. Built in a very logical fashion, your journey goes through a series of exhibits, some of which are more like simulators that guide you through a series of visual and immersive environments (the glaciation was my favourite, even if it was a little dizzying in parts), others than you walk through at your own pace reading about the different stages are you go.

There are glaciers, dinosaurs, oceans, tundra, and volcanoes and more beyond, each stage taking you through a unique part of the world, or a time in its history. Charting virtually every element of science – including mass extinctions and human evolution (spot the blogger with the biology degree…) – you learn in each ‘room’ about a totally different subject, most of the time without even realising it. Oh, and did we mention they have an iceberg? An actual real, touchable, freezing cold iceberg (although who knows how much of it is hidden below the floor…).

Dynamic Earth

You end your journey in the rainforests of Borneo (because why wouldn’t you?) and another area we positively loved. There’s actual rain, animatronic animals, and a wall of dazzlingly beautiful photos worthy of a place in National Geographic or a David Attenborough documentary, where a guide talks you through the animals and climate of this rainforest, all whilst an orang-utan watches you through the trees.

Dynamic Earth

And just when you think you’ve learnt everything you can you sit reclined in the dome auditorium watching a journey through the wild weather of our solar system, all of which makes our own world seem so perfectly comfortable.

We easily spent a couple of hours touring through time and space, learning as much as we could whilst excitedly playing with the exhibits and feeling like we were flying through time, both coming out with the desire to learn more about the world. If we had one criticism – if it is even that – it would be that there is almost too much. It’s impossible to take it all in, and because so much of it is done visually you retain less than if you read it like a traditional museum. We are both very visual people, but even still a week later recalling the details of the story is tricky. But as an experience, it is amazing.

Somewhere to learn about the world may sound primarily for children, but it’s not just for over-grown six year olds like ourselves; we encountered a diverse age range whilst there. Maybe it’s wrong to put ages on who would enjoy it – all you need is an enquiring mind. Next time it’s raining, go find out for yourself.

We were given tickets by Dynamic Earth to visit, but we were not asked to write a positive review in any way and all opinions expressed are our own. You can find out more by reading our disclosure policy.

Ting Thai Caravan

If you asked me to explain the name of Ting Thai Caravan I wouldn’t know where to start. But as far as I can tell it has very little to do with caravans – that’s boxes on wheels and the camel kinds. But does it matter? Well no, not really, this is the best Thai street food you’re going to get in Edinburgh. In fact, probably the best street food of any origin. If, that is, you can still call it street food when it’s served indoors.

Ting Thai Caravan

Teviot Place, EH1

I was introduced to Ting Thai Caravan – or Caravan, as it’s more commonly known –  last summer by my old flatmate who was besotted by the place, and it’s now by far one of my favourite places to grab some delicious street food. I was late to the party though, Caravan has been around for a couple of years now, starting out as a pop up during the Fringe in 2012. Today though it’s become a permanent feature of Teviot Place (opposite Bristo Square), much loved by students and those who are looking for something a little different.Ting Thai Caravan

The ‘festival pop up’ vibe has remained an integral part of Caravan; it still looks as though it’s not a permanent eatery three years in. The walls are exposed brick, the plaster ripped off and no effort made to smooth it out, there’s a wall of posters for local music and club nights, the long tables house several groups at a time, the menu is still compact and printed in black and white, most dishes are still served in little brown boxes (except the one I chose and took a photo of…). It feels authentic and smells delicious. If you go at the weekend you’re also likely to have to queue.

What about the food? Well, it’s every bit as delicious as you might expect. I am no judge on exactly how authentic it is, but it’s certainly delicious. Whether you want rice, noodles, curries, fish, pork, chicken, etc. etc. (you get the picture) there’s something for you to enjoy.

On this particular visit I opted for the khao moo daeng (I have no idea how to pronounce it, but went for it anyway and then had to point to it on the menu as the waitress had no idea what I was trying to say – I’m great like that). It was a delicious bowl of steamy rice, topped with slices of slow cooked pork, slices of cucumber, chilli and a moo daeng sauce (I’m not sure entirely what’s in it, but it’s sort of sweet, sort of spicy and sort of smoky – I suspect I will be a food critic shortly with a description like that). To drink alongside it I opted for the tangy and refreshing lemongrass and ginger juice – I could have drunk it all day.khao moo daeng Ting Thai Caravan

If you have yet to try Ting Thai Caravan, it comes highly recommended for a light meal if you like a little bit of spice and aren’t afraid to try something new. You should also be prepared to totally botch the name of whatever you’re ordering. They also have some of their dishes which are cheaper at lunchtime (until 5pm, I believe), and you have the option to take away if you fancy sitting down on the meadows with it.

We are big fans of this place, and just wish it was a little closer to where we normally are in town!

Loudons Competition

Have you ever had breakfast at Loudons Cafe? Would you like to? Well, it seems that you’re in the right place because here’s your chance.

Edinburgh Editor is teaming up with the wonderful people at Zomato to provide one lucky reader and a friend to go enjoy breakfast for two – anything from the menu plus coffee and a pastry, each. Hungry yet?

Want to enter? We’ve made it simple – all you need to do is fill in the form below and tell us the following: if we were to rename the meal of breakfast, what would you call it and why? The winner will be the one we find the most entertaining. Entries close 11:59pm on Tuesday 30th June 2015.

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(If you have problems filling the form please email your entry to editor@edinburgheditor.com)

Loudons is an artisan bakery and cafe up in Fountainbridge, open every day for delicious breakfasts, lunches and weekend brunches; they also do fantastic coffees, teas and cakes. They make all their bread and cakes on site in Fountainbridge to ensure they’re fresh and delicious. You can find out more about Loudons on the Zomato website. We’d also suggest you download the Zomato app so you can review it – and we’re not just saying that because they gave us a prize!

Just so you know, we’ll also add (some might say as a consolation prize) the email addresses to our newsletter – you will of course be free to unsubscribe at any time, but we’d hate for you to miss out. We’d also love you to share the competition on Twitter and Facebook, but there will be no additional entry for doing so, just Mr Editor’s grateful, smiling face.

Terms and conditions

  1. The prize is breakfast for two – anything from the menu, plus a pastry and coffee for both people – and is being kindly provided for us by Zomato.
  2. The competition will run until 11:59pm on Tuesday the 30th June 2015 (BST), with the winner decided and notified by Friday 3rd July.
  3. We will notify the winner by email by Saturday 4th July, they will have 48 hours to respond – if this does not happen, the second most entertaining answer will win. The same process will apply.
  4. The prize will be fulfilled by Zomato, we will only pass the email address of the winner on to them. Edinburgh Editor takes no responsibility for the prize.
  5. All emails collected by this competition will be added to the Edinburgh Editor newsletter mailing list – details of which can be found here. If you do not wish to be added please either unsubscribe or email editor@edinburgheditor.com with the email address you wish not to be added – this will not affect your chances of winning.
  6. Full details of our disclosure policy can be found here.

Hidden & Haunted Mercat Tours

Picture this, if you will: we’re standing by the Mercat Cross on the Lawnmarket and – shock horror – there appears to be a little moisture in the air. Never mind, it will give the evening a slight air of mystery as darkness descends and we discover some of the gruesome tales about Edinburgh’s past on Mercat Tours’ Hidden and Haunted walking tour.

Mercat Tours – mercattours.com

We’re welcomed by our guide for the evening, Jared, whose demeanor seems to be just the right level of funny/creepy/nightmare-inducing for such an occasion, and set off across the back of St Giles Cathedral to talk about witches, treasonous plots and the somewhat grim repercussions for those attempting regicide (talk about making an example of someone…). No spoilers here, you’ll have to go on the tour to find out what happened.

The tour we were on – Hidden and Haunted – is the ‘late night’ tour, leaving at 9pm and, unlike many of the tours across the old town, it is kid-free, meaning that euphemisms for torture, murder and the many creative forms of death used our city’s history are out and the blood thirsty details are in. Excellent.

Hidden and Haunted takes you through a series of tales involving plots, grave robbing and other such stories that our civilised city is built on before taking you through the cobbled back streets to the Blair Street vaults. For us it was a great way to discover a little more about vaults themselves – which have a fascinating history in themselves – but for anyone looking to explore the hidden layers of Edinburgh, this is a great introduction that will leave you wanting to know more.

In just over an hour we traversed the streets and vaults with our caped guide (whether he walked or floated across the cobbles I am not entirely sure) telling us choice tales and snippets. It’s certainly not a tour for anyone who is prone to nightmares or freaks at the talk of blood and beheading.

The highlight of the tour is undoubtedly the Blair Street Vaults. It is easy to forget that South Bridge is, as its name might suggest, a bridge. It looks like a normal street, but entering the arched vaults underneath that hold everything above up, you step – not without trepidation – into an underworld full of tales of life, or rather death. Ghost stories, eerily illuminated by the candlelight (real candle light is the only source of light down in the depths), are told in each room with a sense of realism that is enough to make even a hardened cynic shiver, and not just because of the occasional droplet of water that comes from the ceilings above.

Hats off though to our guide – he clearly knew what he was doing and was having fun doing it! He managed to integrate audience participation without the almost inevitable awkwardness it can involve, and included ‘modern day’ references with wit and sarcasm. References to CCTV and Beyoncé should really be included in all ghost tours for entertainment value. If we were to have one criticism it would be that there was a bit too much filler chat and dramatics in parts. An additional story or two could definitely have been included in their place without overloading the audience; but as these things go, it’s a relatively minor issue that doesn’t detract from the overall enjoyment of the tour.

You can find more about Mercat Tours and all their walking tours on their website.

We were invited by Mercat Tours to take part, our tickets were provided for us but all comment on the tour is our own and not influenced by anyone else. More information can be found on our disclosure policy page.

Edinburgh Fringe Programme 2015

The 2015 instalment of The Edinburgh Festival Fringe – a.k.a. The Fringe! – is mere weeks away now, and with the release of the 2015 programme last week it feels like time to start getting excited. Very, very excited.

If you haven’t seen this year’s programme yet then let us spare you the shock – it’s the size of a phone book (remember those?). We all get a bit of fatigue thumbing through such a behemoth of a book, and risk repetitive strain injuries, but highlighting it like the Radio Times at Christmas is surely one of the most satisfying thing in the world.

Based on our first read through, comedians we’ve seen in previous years and trusted recommendation here are 13 shows you should be lucky enough to see this year

1. Chris Ramsey: All Grown Up

We spent his show last year doubled up with laughter, the affable Ramsey has been to the Fringe many times and is now one of the ‘ones to see’.

2. Chris Hutchinson: Learning the Ropes

This guy has supported Chris Ramsey on tour, and we’ve seen his solo Fringe shows the last two years running. Another comedian you can’t help but like, he’ll have you wishing the show was twice as long.

3. Stuart Goldsmith: An Hour

One of our favourite ‘turn up and see what’s on’ shows from last year, it was a last minute decision we’re happy to make again. His jokes are clever and the interlinking between them was nailed.

4. Iain Stirling: Touchy Feely

A name familiar to both Fringe goers and CBBC watchers (apparently), Stirling has had sell out shows the last three Fringes – we’re always too late to get them, so grab tickets whilst you can.

5. Jo Caulfield: Awkward Conversations

One of the funniest comedians at the Fringe, and someone that can sometimes be seen in Edinburgh out with August (there is comedy all year round – see here for proof), Jo Caulfield is smart, witty and likely to need a bigger venue.

Udderbelly

6. Tom Stade: You’re Welcome

We first saw Tom Stade at a late night ‘best of the fest’ style show, and we’ve seen him again since. Everyone in this list is going to make you laugh, but this show is definitely on the unmissable list.

7. No Such Thing as a Fish

Have you been listening to the podcast from the QI Elves? If not we seriously recommend you look it up, but in the mean time get tickets for their live recording!

8. The Thinking Drinkers’ Guide to the Legends of Liquor

Fancy popping yourself up on a bar stool and sipping at a drink whilst people educate you about the world in a fascinatingly hilarious way? Well, this is clearly the show for you.

9. Jollyboat: Nerdplay

We went to see these guys three years ago because we herd they had pirate pop songs (no, honestly) and lots and lots of puns. We’ve seen them twice more since. It’s witty, clever and ultimately just very, very silly. Well worth it – it’s even free.

10. Abandoman: Hot Desk

Ireland’s most famous comedy hiphop improv group (although possibly also their only one) sound like a disaster waiting to happen, but this was one of our favourite shows last year. Anyone who can fit jokes about unexpected items in the bagging area that are actually funny into a rap is well worth the ticket price.

11. Shit-faced Shakespeare

Need some acting in amongst all the comedy but still need a laugh? How about watching a troupe of trained actors perform Shakespeare, one of whom is absolutely hammered. Sounds odd, but is completely hilarious.

12. James Acaster: Represent

With three nominations for the best show award for his last three shows at the Fringe, it seems like most of what could be said already has. This guy will be one of the hottest tickets in this year’s Fringe.

13. BBC at Potter Row

OK, not one show but dozens, the BBC has a strong showing at the Fringe every year with loads of great shows. You’ll see big name radio broadcasts to up and coming stars – and being the BBC, all of them are free. They ‘sell’ out very quickly though, so book well in advance.

There are literally thousands of shows in the Fringe this year – it’s apparently double, yes DOUBLE the size it was a decade ago when I first started going (CHAV: The Musical and Russell Howard were highlights that year) – and all of the above are just in the comedy section. Thumb through the programme and once you’ve put your hand on ice for a bit share the shows you’re most excited about with us on Twitter.

You’ll find all of the about on Edfringe.com

Canonmills

We find ourselves again needing to eat and to caffeinate. Which, in case you were wondering, is most definitely a word – or at least it is now. But of course this is Edinburgh and there is both coffee and food to be found around every corner.

If you’ve recently found yourself thinking that it might be time to start exploring other parts of the capital where you can relax all summer and generally avoid the busiest parts of town you’re not alone. After spending time in more central coffee shops – here’s Part I and Part II – we’ve recently been spending much more time than ever before in Canonmills and Stockbridge – which can surely only be a good thing. And because there are so many fun, independent places to eat and drink it seems only fair that we do our bit to spread the word. So, aside from having some wonderful graffiti, here are a few places for you to try out for coffee and cake, or perhaps even more, in Canonmills.

The Blue Bear

The Blue Bear

Down in the very heart of Canonmills, The Blue Bear has rapidly become a favourite of ours. With delicious coffees – and lots of exciting home-baked cakes and scones – on offer, plus a relaxed and friendly atmosphere this is a place you can go to meet people, do a bit of work or simply hide from anything you wish to hide from. It’s not the biggest coffeeshop in the world, but it goes back further than you expect.

The Blue Bear

Roamin’ Nose

This place is a cafe/bistro/coffee shop/so many things. But it somehow manages to do them all really well. No matter what time of day it is, this place will have a treat in store for you, and some really good coffee to go alongside it. Whether you’re passing by at breakfast time, lunch, dinner or somewhere in between you’ll be made to feel welcome in this wonderfully compact little place.

Cuckoo’s Bakery

Rapidly becoming and Edinburgh institution, Cuckoo’s Bakery is a must for cake lovers. With lots of custom coffees to go alongside your cake – we’re just going to go ahead and assume you’re having a cake if you’re here – you can easily lose an hour or two here catching up with friends. Have we mentioned how good their cakes are? Because they’re really good.

Cuckoo's Bakery

Coffee Angel

With near floor-to-ceiling windows, this place is utterly bathed in natural light, so feels hugely refreshing and airy. Their coffees are delicious and they even have milkshakes if you’re not feeling the coffee at that particular moment – or better still, combine the two. With tables, window stools, sofas and takeaway all available, this place caters for just about every eventuality. They also have a tempting sounding breakfast menu which we may have to try out.

Coffee Milkshake, Coffee Angel, Canonmills

Earthy

I love Earthy, although I find it very hard not to go in and just buy everything. They’re a great local shop, selling (and serving, in their delicious cafe-come-bistro) locally sourced and grown produce. It’s seasonal, hugely flavoursome and helps to promote other local businesses. They’ve a couple of locations across the city, but Canonmills is where it is at for us – it’s a bistro, deli, shop and the sort of place I shouldn’t be allowed in unsupervised.

This is, of course, but a taste of wheat’s on offer down in Canonmills – there are more cafes, bistros, pubs, restaurants and much more besides (those looking for second hand books or to buy a piano are also catered for). Why not take a trip there yourself and tell us what your favourite places are.

Wedgwood the Restaurant

There are dozens upon dozens of restaurants across Edinburgh. But how many of them could you go in for your meal and know that you could have that table as long as you like? No ‘sure, we can fit you in but we need the table by 9′ or feeling the pressure to get your coat once you’ve done with dessert. Well, if you like taking your time over dinner then Paul and Lisa Wedgwood’s Wedgwood the Restaurant is what you’re looking for.

A restaurant that is designed with your perfect night out in mind, with great seasonal produce and delicious dishes this Canongate restaurant is the latest in our Business Makes Edinburgh series. With so many great restaurants, Wedgwood the Restaurant takes a refreshing approach and one, you feel, is only possible because it is owned and run by the Wedgwoods. Paul took some time out of his busy day to talk about what makes their business tick.

Wedgwood the Restaurant
267 Canongate, EH8

Like you reading this, I don’t know Paul, so I asked him to give us a brief biography for them and the restaurant.

“My life before opening the restaurant involved getting as much experience as possible in each department of hospitality! I started working as a pot wash at the age of 14 and worked my way up since, from busy pubs and high-end bars to Michelin star restaurants. 

“Lisa’s background is in office management, so this works perfectly for managing the business. I deal with the culinary side of things while Lisa runs an amazing front of house team. We fully support each other whilst running the restaurant.”

Everything you read about Wedgwood the Restaurant comes back to the principle of having a great night out – not just a meal. “The key element is not to be rushed!! We love to dine out, and always prefer to take our time over three courses, maybe even an extra cheese board and coffees.  Being handed your coats after 2 hours is a horrible feeling – you may not want to go out for more drinks, but then it could be too early to go home!! So this is where our idea of the perfect night out came from, we wanted to make the night for our customers that we expect when we dine out.  

“We also have created a relaxed atmosphere, you can turn up in your finest clothes or jeans and a jumper and neither guest will feel uncomfortable.  We have a knowledgeable front of house team who, from extensive training, know the menu inside out, and can recommend a wine to match from our carefully thought out.”

Wedgwood the Restaurant

Sounds great, doesn’t it? And makes you wonder why more restaurants aren’t like that. Well, the obvious answer coming to my head is sadly economics based – Paul and Lisa’s approach limits the number of covers (i.e. the number of bums on seats) they can accommodate. It does have an impact, Paul admits, with 48 being the normal number for an evening – sometimes up to 55 at the weekend. But clearly there’s a commitment to not rushing people. Surely a nearly unique selling point?

As for the food, it’s all about fresh flavours and – although it’s becoming a bit of a cliché that I’m hesitant to fall into using – about the experience. “Fresh, innovative and exciting. No restaurant guest wants to choose to eat something which they can make themselves at home, we always have to be pushing our own boundaries and keep dishes exciting for all those who visit the restaurant.”

But where does the inspiration for those flavours come from? All over, it would seem: “Travel definitely influences my dishes at the restaurant, discovering new food and flavours around the world is one of my favourite things to do.

“On our most recent trip in January we went to Sydney. As a country Australia doesn’t have its own ‘style of food’, but it is a fusion of so many different cultures.  We love dining out there and trying new food and we always bring back a little inspiration.”

Exciting plans for the rest of the year and beyond are being kept a tight-lipped secret for now, but the commitment to great food and a perfect night out are remaining – thankfully – steadfast at the top of the agenda for Wedgwood the Restaurant. If you’re looking for somewhere new to try – or perhaps rediscover – then take a trip down the Canongate, pull up a chair and stay a while.

You can find out more about Wedgwood the Restaurant on their website or follow Paul on Twitter.

Our thanks go to Paul for answering our questions, the photos are courtesy of Crimson Edge Public Relations ltd.

Union of Genius

I don’t know about you, but I bloody love soup. That’s probably just as well, because Edinburgh has become awash with delicious soup in the last couple of years, and it’s mainly down to one company: Union of Genius. From their cafe on Forrest Road and Dumbo the soup van in George Square, to their wholesale output across some 30 plus cafes across the city,  Union of Genius is serving lunch to hundreds of us every day with their amazing soups and salads.

As one of Edinburgh’s most exciting and well known small businesses we thought they would be great to interview for our Business Makes Edinburgh feature – and boy did they not disappoint. We’ve caught up with Elaine, Amy and Bruce to discuss all things soup, Edinburgh and their exciting new crowd funding adventure with Kickstater!

Union of Genius

The cafe on Forrest Road opened in late 2011 – just as soup season was starting in earnest – but the idea, Elaine tells us, goes back much further: “Union, though, had its origins back in Manchester, when I was bookselling in Waterstone’s Deansgate in the 1990’s. I could never find real soup to buy for lunch and was too busy (disorganised) to bring my own lunch each day. One frustrating day the idea of a soup cafe appeared in my head – serving different, proper, home-made soups that are meals in their own right, with fabulous flavoured breads. And there the idea lay until a long time later.” 

Manchester’s loss though is most definitely Edinburgh’s gain, as Union of Genius is now known not only for its amazing soups, but also its promotion of other businesses. In fact, it’s this bringing together of ideas, delicious food and amazing suppliers that gives our soup-loving friends their name – Union of Genius. In addition to the ever-changing list of soups available, the food on offer is well chosen. The bread is baked fresh by Dough Re Mi, the coffee comes from Artisan Roast, cakes from Love Pure Cakes, Love Crumbs and the Archipelago bakery, and chocolate from Coco and Chocolate Tree. And this is a list that’s ever-growing. Elaine describes it as the result being something greater than any of them, but that doesn’t feel as though it does it any real justice; it’s much more.

Union of Genius

And as if that wasn’t enough, as well as bringing together many of Edinburgh’s best producers they are also good human beings, donating soup to the Bethany and City Mission care van that provides food for those sleeping rough on our streets, and hosting events for The Real Junk Food that look at using food rather than throwing it away.

One of the things Union of Genius is best known for – besides the soup, of course – is its success in crowd funding. Back in 2013 they launched a campaign on Kickstarter to raise the money to build their kitchen (which is based in a mini industrial estate down in Leith). This has given them the opportunity to increase the soup-giving love many times over – and also gave rise to the wholesale side of the business. And with business booming, they’re at it again, with a second campaign now live so their kitchen can expand: “We need to expand our kitchen space, to separate our chilling and storage from cooking and prep, and by coincidence the unit next door from us has become available. The landlords are willing, but the timing for us financially could be better – so, we’re dreaming up more rewards and starting another funding project.”

Visit KICKSTARTER

It seems only fair to ask then, what their experience was like last time around – and for the advice they’d offer to anyone else taking this approach: “It was utterly nerve-racking and I’ve never wept so often in my life, but the experience was amazing. Advice? Run a short campaign, keep your backers well-updated, make sure the rewards are easy to achieve and aren’t going to break you later, and promote, promote, promote.” They make it sound so simple…

Union of Genius

Away from all their crowdfunding efforts, one of the biggest questions I had (from a sheer nosiness perspective, I won’t lie) for the team was what they did in the summer? Our wonderful Edinburgh weather is of course notoriously unpredictable, but do we really have soup in the summer? Elaine, again: “When we started, I imagined we’d be doing lots of chilled soups in summer. In fact, what we actually do in summer is very similar to what we do in winter, just with lighter soups. I have tried to entice Edinburgh into the refreshing pleasures of a very lightly chilled soup, but Edinburgh doesn’t want to know. I’ve encouraged people to taste the same soup served both hot and lightly chilled, and they’re astonished at how different they taste, and at how lovely the chilled version is, but for lunch? The hot one, please. Amazing. We do salads as well as soups, though, and the salad consumption goes up a lot. We are so close to the Meadows, and our take-out picnic bags are really popular.” 

So Edinburgh isn’t in to chilled soups then – maybe one day – but with all the options available to Union of Genius it seems remiss not to ask about their favourites, the most popular and the most inventive: “That’s too hard! Caldo Verde is perpetually popular and has been on our menu almost every day since we first opened. Other customer favourites include Lebanese lemon, lentil and spinach, Curried chickpea and spinach [Ed. note: this is one of my favourites] and Celtic Kelpie, with chicken, almonds and dulse seaweed. Soup of the Arabian Nights and Sweet potato, coconut and tamarind have both won Great Taste Awards, but perhaps Coronation chicken, a soupy play on the sandwich filling, is our most inventive.”

But perhaps even more interesting are their ambitious plans – the ones that they think Edinburgh’s not quite ready for. Food security and how we’re going to feed the world has always been of interest to me, both as a food lover and a one time biologist studying ecology and climate change, so I’m really intrigued by the use of insect proteins and other out-there alternatives – apparently I’m not the only one here though: “We’d like to explore insect protein. I was eating mealworms at the 2015 Science Festival, and they were delicious. Plus, we like the idea of customers complaining that there aren’t enough flies in their soup… ” Brilliant.

It is time to tie up our little chat with the wonderful people of Union of Genius, but before ending the conversation there is just time for our perennial question: where is your favourite place in Edinburgh. Elaine struggled a bit – the Meadows with all the cheery blossom, Indaba in Tollcross, the Dogs, Lucky Liqour, the Cameo Bar; for Bruce it’s was the Water of Leith at the Dean Village or the bookshops of the Old Town; Amy will be found in either the Hanging Bat on Lothian Road or Cloisters up in Tollcross. Some final words on favourite things about Edinburgh from Amy: “And any time I catch a glimpse of the Castle between tenements or rising over a hill, it makes me smile.”

I would say that just about sums it all up. Thanks to Elaine, Bruce and Amy for talking to us, you can back Union of Genius on Kickstarter as well as following them on Twitter – use the hashtag #soupstarter. Oh, and go treat yourself to some soup as well, it’s always worth it!

Photos 1 & 2 of the collage and of our bowl of soup credited to Brendan MacNeill